Researchers at the ARC Research Hub for Transforming Australia’s Manufacturing Industry through High Value Additive Manufacturing, led by Professor Xinhua Wu at Monash University, are successfully commercialising their innovative 3D printing technology.

In 2014, the Research Hub revealed the world’s first 3D printed jet engine at the Melbourne International Airshow. Then, in late 2016, the Research Hub announced it had become a qualified aerospace supplier, signing an agreement to print turbojet components for Safran Power Units, a French-based global aerospace and defence company.

Although 3D printing has been used for many years in the aerospace industry to create polymer parts, printing metallic parts for functioning jet engines is much harder. In order to print alloys that are tough and strong enough for jet engine parts, Professor Wu’s team engineers parts to incredible levels of precision, drawing on their deep reserve of metallurgical knowledge and specialist research equipment.

3D printing technology holds the promise of transforming manufacturing processes in many different fields of engineering. The Research Hub expects that this is just the beginning, with many other opportunities on the horizon to attract business investment and develop other applications of this technology, including printing biomedical implants.

The development and commercialisation of this advanced 3D metal printing technology is an excellent example of Australia’s world-class research translating into 'real world' commercial impact.

Image: 3D printed jet engine.
Image courtesy: Monash University.